8 March 2021 | Tennis Tasmania

As part of International Women’s Week 2021 from March 8-14, we’ll be highlighting strong female leaders in the Tasmanian tennis community.

For International Women’s Day on March 8, we spoke to Arwen Koesmapahlawan from Launceston about tennis, leadership, and how she encompasses the IWD2021 theme Choose To Challenge.

Arwen is a state tennis representative, year ten prefect at Riverside High School, and a part of Tennis Tasmania’s Future Leaders program.  Arwen endeavours to inspire change and she is not afraid to take the lead in the various areas of her passions. 

Her love of the game has seen her travel around the state and country to play tournaments, including representing the North at the recent Tasmanian Tri-Series Cup, and she is looking to develop as a tennis coach as part of her future tennis career.

“I would love to inspire the younger generations of girls to play tennis,” Koesmapahlawan said.

Reflecting on an unprecedented year both on and off the court in 2020, Arwen points out the her involvement in Future Leaders as a highlight and one that developed her resilience and leaderships skills.

“It was certainly a challenging year for all and it wasn’t just COVID-19 that took affected many peoples’ life last year.” 

“Due to some very difficult times that I was going through, I wasn’t completely sure I would be able to put myself out there and meet a whole new group of girls.”

Program Coordinator Alyssa Hibberd was full of praise for Arwen’s involvement and dedication in recent months.

“The courage it took Arwen to show up to the program and give all she could was outstanding,” Hibberd said.

The Future Leaders program, recently run for the first time from October 2020 to January 2021, is for 15-17 year old girls who have a passion for tennis in their community.

Key focuses include building self-confidence and connections with others. 

The program consisted of a weekend leadership camp discussing important aspects of leadership and finding connections with others, a day learning the foundations of tennis coaching, creating a project plan to help impact a gap in their tennis community, and listening to an inspiring female guest speaker, Alice Hansen, at the celebration event. 

Arwen’s favourite memory from the leadership camp was the personal connection focus where participants were encouraged to share a story about a symbolic item they had brought along.

“We had extremely open and caring conversations even though we had only just met. It was so bizarre and surreal that essentially strangers could trust each other to share our personal stories.”

Reflecting on the International Women’s Day focus on Women in Leadership campaign theme Choose To Challenge, Arwen shared her thoughts.

“A part of leadership is about learning to be comfortable with who you are and being brave enough to connect with others by sharing stories of success and struggle,” she said. 

“Future Leaders showed me that there are really more girls that play tennis in Tasmania than you think.”

“We just have to find each other and connect.”